Roadside Online: Diners, Drive-ins, the American roadside - RoadsideOnline - Diners, Back Roads, and Main Streets of America Thu, 02 Oct 2014 12:16:27 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Rosebud Diner Gutted

Rosebud Diner Interior

That disturbance in The Force we all felt last week had nothing to do with the recent weather. It came from the impact of sledgehammers upon the interior of the Rosebud Diner in Somerville, Massachusetts. 

Reader Beck Prigot sent us photos she took peeking through the windows of the exceedingly rare Worcester "Streamliner" in Davis Square showing the "progress" of construction the new owners have ordered. This was not unexpected. My last discussion with Bill Nichols, the son of the previous owner, "Gally" Nichols, he told me that the future plans for the diner all-but-necessitated the destruction of the diner's interior and a likely blow-out of its back wall. 

In Beck's email, she wrote: 

While visiting Somerville yesterday, I looked through the windows of the Rosebud Diner and saw that it had been gutted. Attached are the photos that I took on my iPod, as well as a photo of the permit authorizing a Mr. Dauro Aquino to perform a "full gut out[,] exploratory interior demo to studs".

Yes, the Rosebud is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but that does not prevent owners from pulling idiotic stunts like these. It does not protect national treasures from blithering ignoramuses. The Register exists to protect buildings from government actions and to provide tax incentives for owners to do the right thing — to not commit the crime that these dopes did — but they are free to opt out.

I got my pictures. I can only hope you got yours. 

See more photos here.

]]> (Randy Garbin) Featured Lou-Roc Award Departments Mon, 17 Feb 2014 10:08:52 -0500
Lou-Roc Award: Dolts deep-six Deepwater Diner

Update: We just discovered that the Deepwater Diner has its own Facebook page. Click here and leave your opinion of what they've done to the place.

deepwater2012extIn what reality is a plain white stucco box more attractive than finely-crafted, streamlined stainless steel?

Roadside first published more than twenty years ago. The Lou-Roc award debuted about two years later. The grapevine revealed to me a few years after that the term transformed into a verb — as in, "I won't lou-roc my diner."

deepwater1995The Deepwater Diner as it appeared in 1997.

All along the way, this publication and many others have spread the good word that diners offer both good food and a dynamic restaurant concept for entrepreneurs. People like diners. Actually, they love them. They feel good just to see them around.

]]> (Randy Garbin) Featured Lou-Roc Award Departments Fri, 03 Feb 2012 16:14:38 -0500
Burlington's Taco Hell

oasisNow called El Cortijo, which I believe is Spanish for "I hate diners." (Photo by Michael Rosol)

When Stratton Lines purchased and installed his new Mountain View diner in downtown Burlington, Vermont in 1954, he called it the Oasis. Just the name makes one think of a warm and welcoming respite from the long Vermont winters. Inside, one might expect to find hot and hearty comfort foods served by people with no greater concern than their customer's satisfaction. After all, Stratty went the extra mile and purchased a real American diner, no small accomplishment in any period of our twentieth-century history.

]]> (Randy Garbin) Featured Lou-Roc Award Departments Tue, 03 Jan 2012 18:48:33 -0500
Trashing a diner, Mexican style

Looks like we have another Lou-Roc in the making. Sadly, you'll find few diners out there as original as the former Oasis Diner. Except for the chunk of counter removed by the last owners, the diner where Bill Clinton sipped tea with the city's mayor. And now, somone else who doesn't want a diner bought one of the most orginal out there and will proceed to rip it up for their own ephemeral concept. If you care, please write to these people and plead with them not to do this. 

The Fate of Sadie Katz: Tacos, Farmhouse-Style



Burlingtonians wondering about the fate of the shuttered Sadie Katz Delicatessen space might find some comfort in what's coming on its heels — that is, if they can switch their allegiance from latkes to tacos.

El Cortijo Taquería y Cantina will open in the same space sometime this winter — bar, take-out window, NECI-trained chef and all.


]]> (Randy Garbin) Featured Lou-Roc Award Departments Sat, 31 Dec 2011 09:31:54 -0500
Your call: Lou-Roc or not

I received these photos of the Maybrook Diner in Maybrook, New York from Roadside correspondent Greg Matteson, and in his email, he wondered if we have a Lou-Roc'ing in progress.



As it happens, I spoke with the owners a little over a month before receiving these, so these renovations didn't come as a surprise, but I ponder it with heavy heart — at least as heavy as that roof looks over that poor unfortunate diner.

Owner Harry Toromanides bravely emailed me and asked what he and his brother should do.

]]> (Randy Garbin) Featured Lou-Roc Award Departments Thu, 08 Sep 2011 19:49:19 -0400
Mayfair's Lou-Roc: Mea culpa runneth over
Mayfair Diner, Philadelphia, PA. Could be worse...
Mayfair Diner, Philadelphia, PA. Could be worse...

This just might make a little history. At least for Roadside. I think I need to revoke a Lou-Roc award.

Last weekend, I visited Philadelphia’s Mayfair Diner for only the second time since the Mulholland family sold it in November, 2006 to mega-restaurateur Michael Petrogiannis. After my first visit last year, I thought I’d avoid any further pain by never returning. I can best describe that experience as akin to attending a wake for a dearly departed friend. Though Michael had yet to perform any renovations, the overall experience — even during our post dinner visit — wreaked of death.

When RoadsideFans creator Glenn Wells sent along a photo of the Mayfair a few months ago showing recent exterior renovations, I felt that Michael had finally gone too far. I regarded the Mayfair Diner as simply one of the most splendid examples of diner preservation on the landscape. Its size, its history, and its menu had few equals, and the Mulholland family displayed their reverence for their diner that came out in everything they did. We featured Jack Mulholland’s daughter, Debbie on the cover of issue 27 of Roadside because of her efforts to help revive the surrounding neighborhood. Whenever I named my top five diners, I would always put the Mayfair on that list.

So, then, why bother tinkering with it? What could possibly be the point?

]]> (Randy Garbin) Featured Lou-Roc Award Departments Mon, 19 Apr 2010 12:42:04 -0400
Lou Roc: Fall from the Heights

With heavy hearts, we heave, uh, bestow the latest Lou-Roc Award to the owners of Clyde's Bistro in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. In some ways, this was just too easy. Some newbie gets his hands on two fully restored diners -- at great cost, mind you -- and just tears into them with all the sensitivity of Jack the Ripper performing an appendectomy.

On the other hand, the proprietors, listed on the Clyde's website as Vivian, Lillian, Bryan, and Clyde, make the case that they took over a project that failed on a massive scale, three times. In their defense, they have posed that oft-heard rhetorical question: "Would you rather see them torn down?" Good question. Would I rather people remember me as I looked when I was vital and healthy, or after I was ravaged by a flesh eating disease?

Above, you see the end result of the Clyde Clan after wielding their sledgehammer, but just before it was fully furnished. To us, this looks like a perfect place to wake Liberace. Below, you see what was then known as the Sweet City Diner, a Mountain View hauled in from Atlantic City and restored by Steve Harwin, pictured with his back to the camera, standing with Steve Presser. Here we only see the Mountain View just before it opened in 2002. The O'Mahony of this pair fared only slightly better.


In our own defense to those who say the Lou-Roc unfairly picks on people who have every right to do what they want to their own property, I agree with you. In this country, if you own it, you should be able to paint it purple and rivet used CDs to it if you are so inclined. Right?

]]> (Randy Garbin) Featured Lou-Roc Award Departments Wed, 10 Mar 2010 21:25:07 -0500
Lou-Roc: Say good-bye to Hollywood
The "new" Hollywood Diner is a big dope-slap at all of us who have worked so hard to spread the good word about the special place the diner has in our culture. (Photo by Ida Doolan)

lourocSome people will look at these two photos and wonder why we picked the Hollywood Diner in Dover, Delaware and its owner for such ignobility. After all, the end result of this renovation produced a nice shiny diner, right?

No. The end result of this travesty produced a cheap, ridiculous cartoon of what a true diner should be. Bearing in mind that hardly anyone exists today that can fashion stainless steel panels in the fashion that Fodero once did, and you start to understand the grievious affront to our heritage that this diner now represents.

Yes, I know that highly polished stainless steel doesn't come cheap, but all that money might have gone to better use hiring an actual chef to turn out meals to truly remember. That's what packs in the customers. Instead, what I'm sure you will now find here is yet another pretense to diner traditions in meals served up more or less by Sysco or its ilk after a quick nuking or bag boiling. I would be very surprised to find anything better once this joke reopens. The fact that the owner would even consider doing something like this to such a gem indicates how little regard he has for his customers or his community.

The Hollywood Diner before: Note the curves and the subtle yet striking lines of the classic Fodero diner. No one living today can recreate this.

There was nothing wrong with the original Hollywood Diner. In fact, it was one of the best examples of a late-1950s Fodero diner still standing. Inside, about the only thing its former owner Bud Jarboe ever changed was the vinyl on the booths. Its degree of originality after more than fifty years in service stood as testament to Mr. Jarboe's good sense and Fodero's quality of workmanship.

The new owners could have simply had some better landscaping, a new sign, a good cleaning, and had replaced the Flexglass and could have easily had himself a near-showroom quality diner. These renovations were simply a waste of time, money, and regard for the greatness that is the great American diner.

Say good-bye to the Hollywood. Say good-bye, my baby.

See more interior photos at the Diner Finder and here.

]]> (Randy Garbin) Featured Lou-Roc Award Departments Sun, 25 Oct 2009 09:57:10 -0400
From Mayfair to Mayfunk

mayfair2009In 2006, the Mayfair Diner landed in the hands of Michael Petrogiannis after eighty years of ownership by the Mulholland family. As a result, the long-running relationship with its surrounding community that the family built on a tradition of quality and integrity suddenly came to a close. A visit there about a year later found the once-lively diner smelling of death and ineptitude. This new roof literally caps off the sad demise of a once-great institution.

Original Mayfair DinerWe can only wonder now what travesty Petrogiannis will foist upon his other Philadelphia purchases, the Country Club, Melrose, and Tiffany diners. (Top photo by Glenn Wells.)

]]> (Randy Garbin) Featured Lou-Roc Award Departments Tue, 15 Sep 2009 10:50:22 -0400
Lou-Roc Alert: Sweet City/Terminal Diner, Cleveland Heights, Ohio

lourocSteve Harwin called us last night to pass along some good and bad news.

Good news: Someone's purchased the ill-fated double diner complex in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Bad news: They want to turn the Mountain View into an upscale tavern, wiping out all of its recently restored original features.

Though the new owners have kept Harwin in the loop with their plans, the man who restored the former Terminal Diner back in 2001 has made no headway trying to convince them of the folly of their ways. Harwin also tells Roadside that for now, the former Zephyr Diner, the O'Mahony diner, will stay much the same.

dottiesdiner18Originally conceived by Cleveland Heights entrepreneur Steve Presser, the over-budget and poorly planned project took years before it finally opened for business. Presser, who always thought big, wanted to have Dottie's Diner (the Zephy) serve as a traditional diner with an updated menu and pair it up with the Sweet City Diner which would serve only desserts.

Going wildly over budget and way past the original deadline for its grand opening, Presser's ambitious idea faltered almost from the start and bankrupted him in the end. In our estimation, the diners suffered from a hopelessly inefficient layout, a confusing presentation for customers (as configured, the restaurant had four entrances), and a site plan that needlessly broke up the traditional streetscape. Set back more than 60 feet, northbound travelers easily passed it by.

It's no secret that we don't like double diner restaurants -- at least where the operator pairs two intact diners. The roadside is littered with nearly a half-dozen such projects. We can't think of a single one that lasted more than two years. Read this carefully if you have plans to give this a try: Open one first. If that succeeds, then expand.

The new owners will at least do one good thing: Their boneheaded intentions have inspired us to bring back the Lou-Roc. Look for more such awards to come.

]]> (Randy Garbin) Featured Lou-Roc Award Departments Sun, 23 Aug 2009 10:32:16 -0400
Another Jersey diner gets date for demo

When was the last time we saw a vintage diner restored and reopened in New Jersey? After thinking about this for a few minutes, the best answer I have is the Bay Way Diner in Linden in 2006, a tiny, 8-stool affair that gave "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" its start. Other than that, Jersey has mostly become a horror show of diner demolition. 

The show goes on in Lawrenceville — or it will if someone doesn't come to the rescue of the former Cass Diner, a Mountain View most of us know as that diner at Mrs. G's Appliances. The last time the store opened  the  diner for anything, it used it to sell plumbing supplies. 

This past week, we received this email from Dennis Waters, the Lawrenceville Township Historian tasked with finding a new home for the diner: 

This has been a long process, but the re-developer is about 60 days away from beginning demolition on the site and would like to find a new home for the diner structure if that is possible. Making a good faith effort to preserve the diner was a condition of his site plan approval from the Zoning Board.

He is willing to give the diner structure without cost to anyone willing to dismantle it and take it away. Minimal paperwork, probably just an insurance indemnification for working at the site.

Anyway, now is the time to circulate this opportunity to your readers if you think they would be interested. The contact for inquiries is:

Bill Hotz

If you think you'd like to enter the fun, challenging (to say the least), and rewarding world of diner ownership and operation, here's your chance. But before you do, be sure to read our Primer for diner purchase and restoration. Report back if you do.

More photos here

]]> (Randy Garbin) Featured Diner for Sale Departments Fri, 20 Dec 2013 09:00:45 -0500
Gateway Diner goes in 18 days

Here we go again. 

Today, I received an email from Brian Phillips, the current owner of the Gateway Diner in Trooper, Pennsylvania. Followers of this site know that the Gateway, which closed up in the early 2000s, now stands in the way of (yet another) Wawa development. 


Brian tells me that he has heard from a lot of people, including far too many "dreamers" who have "wasted" his time claiming interest in the diner. He himself owns a salvage company, and tells me that a legitimate savior needs to step forward within the next 18 days or else it's curtains for this rare Fodero unit. 

]]> (Randy Garbin) Featured Diner for Sale Departments Fri, 28 Jun 2013 17:51:15 -0400
Shawmut Diner publicly for sale

 Though this isn't the first time we've heard of the Shawmut Diner going on the market, it is the first time Phil and Celeste Paleologos have announced it publicly. It's a beautiful diner, kept in great condition by its owners and it deserves another 30 years or more serving the community.

]]> (Randy Garbin) Featured Diner for Sale Departments Thu, 11 Apr 2013 09:14:29 -0400
The Diner Buyers

So, you want to buy a diner?

As it happens, I still field calls and emails from people looking to buy a real, stainless-steel clad, vintage diner. Not as many as I once did, but they still come in because I do maintain a "Diner for Sale" category at the Diner Finder. I no longer make it a point of providing the contact information, because in all honesty, I don't have the time or inclination to diligently keep that information fresh.

In the past few months, I've met or corresponded with a few parties involved in the process of buying and restoring a vintage diner. One of those parties already made their purchase, one is trying to acquire a diner in the path of development, and another has sent me urgent emails claiming an intention to buy and save at least three diners on our list. Each one of these three parties perfectly illustrates the trials and tribulations of a preservation advocate such as myself, who has some ambition to make a living in this field.

The individual who informed me of his current attempts to save a diner from demolition also told me he has long-followed Roadside and appreciates my "passion" for diners, etc. I think this website very clearly indicates not only my passion, but the valuable resources I can marshall to help this project.

I know, for instance, that there are but a handful of people out there truly qualified to perform diner restorations, and I know them all. You will not find some random contractor with a love of diners who truly knows the challenges involved. This is highly specialized work, and without a deep immersion into the craft, or at least a few projects behind them, they won't know what they're doing.

When you tell me "I have a guy" to do the work and he's not someone in my database, he doesn't know jack about diners. At best, he'll do a pointlessly substandard job. At worst, he will wreck your diner and hasten your bankruptcy.

More often than not, that guy you know probably sources the better part of his materials at Home Depot, and that other guy you know who can move your diner either never moved a real diner or has a history of damaging the ones he's rigged.

]]> (Randy Garbin) Featured Diner for Sale Departments Fri, 15 Feb 2013 13:46:15 -0500
Diner for Sale: Valentine in Wilmington, OH


Kay Fisher at the Clinton County Historical Society in Ohio wrote us this morning to let us know that they'd like to sell the little Valentine diner they own in Wilmington, Ohio. The diner itself is in very good condition, although it was stripped of most of its interior features. From the outside, the little diner does shine like a true classic.

If interested, contact Kay Fisher at or call at 937-382-4684. 

Here's the link to our listing at the Diner Finder. (Registration required)

Let her know that Roadside sent you.  

]]> (Randy Garbin) Featured Diner for Sale Departments Fri, 03 Aug 2012 10:00:31 -0400